A brief summary of my internship experience

In the spring of 2015, I graduated from CSU San Bernardino with a degree in biology. A few years prior to that, I had only a budding interest in ecology and evolution, along with a desire to conserve species and their habitat. I did not have a solid idea of what I would do with my degree, if anything, and when questioned I often joked (kind of) that I would be a janitor that talked a lot about biology, as was already the case. Lacking an end goal or specific area of interest, I took a wide variety of courses, a broad look at biological processes ranging from the ecosystem level down to the molecular. For the most part courses occurred inside lecture halls and labs. I most enjoyed those few exceptions in ecology and botany in which we left the classroom for fieldwork. That is why I became an intern at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden after graduating, and why I then sought a CLM Internship. Through the course of the CLM Internship I have learned far more of the flora of California than I previously knew. I have learned more about the chaparral ecosystem; the plant and animal species, fire ecology and associated management challenges. I have learned more about edaphic influences on vegetation composition, and I would love to visit and work in more examples of this beyond the gabbro soil of Pine Hill Preserve. Through this experience I see how much more there is to learn and have deepened my interest to do so. I have acquired new interests. I worked with another intern, who has been documenting pollinators of plant species around Pine Hill Preserve, and his interest in pollinators has rubbed off onto me. I also assisted with bird surveys and California red-legged frog habitat construction and monitoring. I hope to continue to gain experience with wildlife and plants in one place, understanding an ecosystem more completely. My interest in biology really started with wonder and curiosity about ecology and how species have evolved with one another, and now I really hope to someday apply an understanding of ecology to conservation and land management. I am now back at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, because it’s a great place, working in the nursery, seed bank, and on the Angeles National Forest for a restoration project. The planting is a restoration project, but also an attempt to address questions about methods which affect the cost and maybe success of projects, comparing results of weed treatments with and without subsequent native planting, along with planting success with different size/age plants. I would gladly go back to the BLM Mother Lode Field Office in the future, because it is also a great place. Thank you to all the staff at the BLM that welcomed me there, and especially my mentor, Graciela, and fellow interns for working with me.

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